A former student recently asked for advice in their job search. The exercise of producing advice was fruitful. I share my thoughts here. Please add your recommendations as well.
1. Indeed This website has more and better jobs than some of the other sites. But do also check out Monster and the Washington Post Jobs section, and, ironically, Craigslist. Oh, and as a last resort, USA Jobs…
2. Internships. It sucks, you don’t get paid as much as you would hope, and you have to make the coffee sometimes. But you also can get valuable experience and even co-author on some good projects. That has been my experience at the U.S. International Trade Commission. Pick somewhere that produces the kind of work you would like to do and find out about internships there.
3. Job-job. Wal-Mart. McDonalds. Get a job-job while you are looking for THE job. If you have to, take a non-paying internship to get experience, and take a job-job to pay the bills at the same time. Work your ass off.
4. Write. While you are not working at THE job write the sorts of things you would like to be writing at THE job. BE your future job. Make a job. I think this sort of practice breeds entrepreneurs. Look around you and see what you can see. Write about it. Use the tools you learned at Mason Econ to tease out the Public Choice implications of local policies and write about them. Do some research and then submit to a local paper or a research organization or think-tank.
5. Learn some tools. How good are you at STATA? Hint: you are not good enough. Get better. Do you know Access? SQL? Can you use Macros in Excel? Have you used Dreamweaver? Can you write JAVA? Find someone that needs a project requiring one of these skill sets and volunteer to do it as an opportunity to practice the skill. You could take more classes, but having a product to display is infinitely more valuable.
6. Learn something new. Another foreign language. More math. Welding. More math. How to do taxes. More math. Read a good book, Peter Boettke’s new “Living Economics” is only $10 on Amazon. Learn guitar. More math. (If you didn’t take Calculus 3 and Linear Algebra you don’t have enough math. Don’t go back to school for this-though you could probably sit in on a course without paying and learn just as well…)
7. Get a grunt job. I sit at a desk 8 hours a day, and sit in traffic another 2-4. I’m everyday a more level guy, my bubble is in the middle. I miss the jobs I had as a younger man, working in a warehouse lifting heavy objects. I sometimes dream about working in landscaping, construction, or manufacturing just so I could move my body. Most of these jobs are hard work, but a lot of fun, and the people you will work with are salt-of-the-earth no bullshit people whom you will learn important life lessons from. If you get the chance to take this kind of job, do it. I’m surrounded by interns here in the district. Young people who dress too well and stress too much about too many superficial trifles all day long. Some of them never got a single callous or splinter in their lives. When my professors were in grad school many of them worked construction over the summer to earn money for school. Today grad students intern or take a long vacation. Something’s missing.
8. Volunteer. Getting a job is about knowing someone whom you can help. Exchange is about me having this which you want and you having that which I want and us swapping to magically create new wealth. This happens through volunteering, only no money changes hands. Networking happens when volunteering quite often. Lots of guys in real jobs volunteer, too. Demonstrate a good work ethic, and be a good conversationalist. You may meet your future boss. You may also meet your future wife!
9. Go to church. Just a recommendation. Can’t hurt to give it a try.
10. Don’t: waste time on facebook or blogs. Play video games. Watch lots of TV. Stay drunk. Get high. Watch porn.
11. During this period of life you are transitioning from being a consumer to being a producer. Spend your time producing. Fix things around your house if you get bored. Paint one of the rooms. Ask a neighbor if they need any painting done! Hint: you can often get premium “blooper” paint at Lowes for as little as $5. Use the monotony of the work as a tool for meditation. Offer to wash neighbor’s cars. They might know of a real job for you. Walk a dog. Fix a bike.
12. Go camping if you get the chance. Not sure how that relates to a job search, but it seems like good advice, anyway…
Thanks for asking. A lot of this is good advice I should be heeding myself, so it was good to bring it out of me. Good luck, and let me know how you fare.